BLM Alaska Trails and Travel Management
Travel Management in Alaska is challenging due to the vast area to manage (over 80 million acres) and remoteness of the land. Limited road access means most overland travel occurs by off-highway vehicles such as ATVs in the summer or by snowmobiles in the winter. Access across BLM managed public lands include: recreational use, subsistence and inter-village travel, industrial (oil &gas, minerals, etc.) and commercial uses (fishing and hunting guides). As part of land use planning efforts, BLM-Alaska is inventorying trails to assess transportation needs and issues, improving access through sustainable trail design and construction, marking routes and signing allowable uses, monitoring uses, and emphasizing Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) trail ethics and safety.
Alaska State Office
- Developed an Alaska Travel Management Guide to assist field staff with integrating Travel Management planning handbook requirements into Alaska land use and implementation plans.
- BLM worked with State and Federal agencies and Regional Native Corporations to develop a poster on allowed uses along ANCSA section 17(b) easements. This poster is part of a continuing outreach effort to educate the public and trail users about respecting private land. It was displayed at agency booths at public events such as the outdoor shows in Anchorage and Fairbanks.
- BLM continued a Challenge Cost Share agreement and partnership with the Alaska Trails nonprofit organization to develop statewide OHV safety messages. We produced three 30-second radio announcements emphasizing trail ethics and etiquette, and ATV safety.
Fairbanks District Office
Eastern Interior Field Office
- Started the Eastern Interior Resource Management Plan that will complete OHV designations on over 10.6 million acres of BLM-managed lands. Several public meeting were held to identify scoping issues for the RMP.
Steese National Conservation Area
- Initiated planning process to reroute Great Unknown Creek route out of the fall line and the creek bed to more sustainable trail location. Identified possible trail corridor and cultural specialists completed an inventory of the area.
- Monitored visitor use on the Pinnell Mountain National Recreation Trail and Birch Creek National Wild River.
White Mountains National Recreation Area
- BLM groomed and maintained over 200 miles of winter snow trails in the White Mountains National Recreation Area connecting 12 public use cabins. The White Mountains NRA is a popular winter recreation destination for snowmobiles, cross-country skiers, and dog mushers.
- Student Conservation Association volunteer crews constructed 1/4 mile of new hiking trail on the Table Top Mountain Trail in Nome Creek Valley.
- BLM staff surveyed the 22-mile Summit Trail and with the help of Alaska Fire Service firefighters completed brushing on over four miles of heavily grown-over trail.
- BLM field staff did over ¼ mile of trail repair and finalized design work on three new bridges on the Cripple Creek Campground interpretive trail.
- BLM completed a five-year project to construct over 16-miles of sustainable motorized-use trail on the Quartz Creek Trail. This effort has been made successful through an ongoing cooperative relationship with the USDA Forest Service Trails Unlimited Enterprise Team. The old route was located in an area that did not allow water to drain and the trail had become severely braided. BLM rerouted and constructed 5-miles of new trail that avoids wetlands and provides a sustainable trail surface. This year’s efforts included the installation of new drainage, culverts, and final trail shaping.
- BLM field staff and the USDA Forest Service Trails Unlimited Enterprise Team completed design, layout and construction of the Two-Step Louie Trail in the Nome Creek Valley. This interpretation trail consists of over 1200 feet of trail built in compliance with the Accessibility Guidelines for Outdoor Developed Areas. Features will include installing two interpretive panels, a gravesite marker for Two-Step Louie, fencing around the cultural site, and a parking area.
- BLM field staff completed annual maintenance and repaired two major wash-outs on the Nome Creek Road, allowing visitors to access the Lower Nome Creek Valley as early as Memorial Day weekend.
- Assisted engineering with a 1653 contract to repair water and ice damage to the Nome Creek Road Bridge.
- BLM issued a ROW for mining access through the Hutchinson Creek WSR corridor.
- BLM installed an information display at the trailhead for the Seventymile sec 17(b) easement near Eagle.
- BLM conducted river patrols and cleaned up trash on gravel bars.
- BLM conducted overflights to monitor recovery of the Mosquito Flats trespass trail.
- BLM held public meetings in Eagle and Tok to accept nominations for new ANCSA sec. 17(b) easements prior to conveying lands into private ownership.
Central Yukon Field Office
- Started a Pre-Plan for the Bering Sea and Western Interior RMP that will address Travel Management issues and make OHV designations on over 4.8 million acres of BLM-managed lands.
- BLM has entered into an Assistance Agreement with the Alaska DOT to conduct a study to nominate the Dalton Highway as a National Scenic Byway. Several public meetings were held in local communities to take comments on this proposal.
- DOT constructed a new boat launch and wayside facility at the Yukon River Crossing for river users. BLM will be monitoring use at the wayside and maintaining this site through an MOU.
- BLM produced a new "Rules of the Road" brochure for visitors driving the Dalton Highway. This handout provides safety information to prepare travelers going up the Dalton Highway.
- Visitation at the Coldfoot AIVC was up 2.3% with the greatest increase being in guided tour operations.
- Started a RMP Pre-Plan for the Dalton Highway that will address Travel Management issues.
- Monitored construction of new mining access road up Marion Creek behind the BLM administrative site.
- The Record of Decision for the Kobuk-Seward Peninsula RMP was signed. This plan completed OHV designations on over nine million acres of BLM-managed lands. Implementation level Recreation and Travel Management plans are proposed for the Squirrel River SRMA.
- Monitored of SRP guides in the Squirrel River drainage. ATV trails associated with the permits were identified and documented as a part of this monitoring.
Arctic Field Office
- Administered and monitored ROWs associated with oil and gas exploration and development in NPRA.
- Travel Management in the Colville River Special Area Management Plan addressed river access and associated easements and as a result a brochure will be produced to assist the public river users with understanding access issues and concerns private lands adjacent to the river.
Anchorage District Office
Anchorage Field Office
- The Record of Decision for the Kobuk-Seward Peninsula RMP was signed. This plan completed OHV designations on over nine million acres of BLM-managed lands.
- The Record of Decision for the Bay RMP was signed. This plan completed OHV designations on over 1.9 million acres of BLM-managed lands.
- Started a Pre-Plan for the Bering Sea and Western Interior RMP that will address Travel Management issues and make OHV designations on over 14 million acres of BLM-managed lands.
- Visitor Services - BLM developed new bear warning signs and installed them on the Salmon Run Trail adjacent to Campbell Creek. These signs will help to educate trail users about bear safety, protecting both bears and users. Installed four information displays on trail safety and etiquette, wildlife safety and a trail map.
- Partnerships - Recreation staff participated as active members on the Municipality of Anchorage Trail Watch committee, the Anchorage Waterways Council and Scoop the Poop Committee, the Anchorage Trailhead safety workgroup, and the Anchorage Bowl Bear Committee. BLM co-sponsored nine public meetings with the MOA Parks and Recreation Division to gather user input, address user issues, and promote understanding and cooperation between Anchorage Bowl trail users and diverse recreational interests.
- Volunteers - BLM sponsored several large public events, including National Trails Day and National Public Lands Day. Volunteers donated hundreds of hours planting over 1500 native trees, removing invasive weeds along the trails, airstrip and administrative site. Trails were brushed by volunteers and trail crewmembers to improve line of sight for wildlife and user safety. BLM and REI sponsored a Winter Trails Day event that brought over 650 visitors and 12 partners to study winter trail skills, etiquette and safety. An Eagle Scout project constructed a large moose enclosure adjacent to the Campbell Tract heliport.
- Interpretation - An Eagle Scout installed an historical wayside exhibit to celebrate the WWII history and role of the Campbell Tract. The exhibit compliments a similar wayside installed last year on the north end of the Tract near Campbell Creek. BLM also completed restoration of 800 feet of WWII era airstrip using native plants.
- Facilities - BLM completed installing the Little Campbell Creek Bridge and adjacent landscaping and rip-rap. A user-created equestrian trail adjacent to the bridge site was re-vegetated. BLM relocated 300 feet of sled dog trail adjacent to the Campbell Creek Science Center Road to improve safety. Campbell Tract utilized a Serve Alaska AmeriCorps trail crew to brush trails, pull weeds, construct trails, and on other various landscaping projects. BLM maintained and groomed the winter trail system on Campbell Tract for cross-country skiing.
Iditarod National Historic Trail
- The Governor of Alaska helped kick-off the Iditarod NHT Centennial celebration in Seward.
- Updated the Iditarod NHT website.
- Established a Challenge Cost Share partnership with Iditarod Historic Alliance to mark trail route.
- BLM developed a new Iditarod National Historic Trail poster to promote the Centennial.
- Installed 10 miles of tripod trail markers.
- Contracted an Invasive Weed inventory along INHT.
- Conducted a cultural inventory of the Shermeirer Roadhouse area.
Glennallen Field Office
Heavy precipitation that persisted nearly all summer hampered some of the scheduled workload in the travel management program in FY 08. However a lot of on ground work was still completed with a large focus in trail monitoring and rehabilitation rather than trail improvement, construction, and maintenance.
- In August 2008, six American Hiking Society volunteers donated more than 480 hours of volunteer labor to help repair the Delta National Wild and Scenic River portage trail. The group replaced aged pressure treated steps with natural rock steps, installed approximately 50 feet of natural spruce bog bridges, constructed a new outhouse, and brushed the entire portage trail. The groups also worked to improve water drainage with the construction of rock drains and proper tread slope.
A large amount of the summer efforts went towards planning, logistics, and construction of a new hiking trail associated with Tangle Lakes Campground. Through Benefits Based Planning processes associated with the Tangle Lakes Travel Management Plan, the Tangle Lakes area was identified as a prime location for development of this type of recreational experience. The current trail system in the area was causing numerous resource problems including affecting archaeological sites, contributing sediment to the Delta River watershed, and vegetation stripping. Further the existing trail had many braids, < access points, and was so steep and treacherous that it limited the amount and type of users that could enjoy it. The project was conducted in 2 phases, through the use of an SCA volunteer crew and by hosting an interagency sustainable trails building work shop.
A trails workshop was held in June and saw participants from the NPS, BLM, State of Alaska DNR and Parks, as well as borough employees. In all 24 participants helped to construct 900 feet of trail in five days applying sustainable trail design and building principles. The class was lead by Don Beers and Karl Knapp with the State of California Parks and Recreation Department. In July an SCA crew was utilized for duration of 21 days. The crew extended the trail another 1000 feet in their 1300 hours of volunteer time. The SCA crew also backhauled rocks and tundra mat to use on other trails projects within the TLAD. There is approximately 700 feet of trail remaining to be built in FY 09 to complete the trail.
In the photo below the red lines demonstrate existing trails along the system, the green dots are affected archaeological sites, and the yellow line is the newly constructed trail. The new trail was constructed with sustainable practices and provides and easy grade of 5-6% for an array of trail enthusiasts.
- Tundra mat that was not utilized in foot trail construction was transplanted to illegal trail locations within the Tangle Lakes Archaeological District. The mats were transplanted on scarified ground to naturally rehabilitate illegal OHV routes. Initial indications demonstrate this technique to be very successful and will help to reduce costs associated with manufactured trail barriers, while providing a more visually responsible approach to trail reclamation and closure.
- BLM GFO partnered with USDA NRCS to help improve the Kenny Lake community trail. Work has taken place on this trail over the past 3 summers. GFO trail employees assisted this year by digging 32 holes for interpretive panels, constructing a trailhead kiosk, and installing interpretive panels. The trail has been well received by the local community and its close proximity to the Kenny Lake School encourages kids to “Take it Outside.”
- Established 40 monitoring sites along 51 miles of trail. These photo point stations will document a visual history of the trail conditions, vegetative composition, success of rehabilitation techniques, and susceptibility to erosion. It is a valuable tool in helping to identify Best Management Practices in regards to district trails and surrounding resources.
- Installed signs and monitored use in the Delta Range Special Recreation Management Area. The East Alaska RMP designated this area as non-motorized from October through May of each year to provide a quiet winter recreation area for backcountry skiers and climbers.